Metro-east BBQ spice guys give back to first responders and military

News-DemocratMay 27, 2013 

Two metro-east barbecuing enthusiasts have formed a new enterprise to satisfy their appetites and help first responders and military personnel.

NAMES: CHRIS BOHNEMEIER AND MIKE RADOSEVICH

Job: Owners, Code 3 Spices Inc. in Maryville

Outlook: "We take a lot of pride in our products and our causes."

Maryville's Bohnemeier and Radosevich founded a line of barbecue blends and rubs last November called Code 3 Spices Inc. and give back a portion of sales to assist those who put their lives on the line every day. Their product can be found in dozens of stores in Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Arizona. One of the stores that carry Code 3 is Hearthstone Grill & Fireplace at 418 South Belt East in Belleville. That's where business writer Will Buss recently met with the entrepreneurs to talk about their venture:

What does code 3 mean?

Mike: "Code 3 is sort of a universal term for responding to an emergency call."

How did this business come about?

Chris: "Mike came up with the idea to want to give back to first responders and to the military, and he wanted to do it with a barbecue idea in mind. I'd already created some spice rubs, initially, so we decided to go down the line of barbecue rubs."

Mike: "We have been doing barbecue competitions for a while and we started winning with some of his recipes, and we were getting a lot of requests. We were getting so many requests that we decided to go head and bottle them up for sale."

How did you come to know each other?

Mike: "We had been buddies for several years. How many years have we been friends?"

Chris: "Eight, nine years."

How did you find this common barbecue bond?

Chris: "We always talked about barbecue. We always talked about ideas of barbecue and it just kind of evolved into a passion that has now evolved into a company."

When did you start your company?

Mike: "We started working on this about a year ago, but we didn't launch it till Nov. 23. It took quite a while to finalize some of the recipes and the marketing and labeling."

What are the different kind of spice rubs you make?

Chris: "Currently, we have five different recipes on the market. The first three are truly barbecue rubs. The 5-0 is a sweet and zesty, it's what we use as our competition rub. The Backdraft is a spicier version of that and the Rescue is what we call the all-purpose, it's used a lot with vegetables. We also have the Grunt, which is our new steak seasoning. It's a good garlic and pepper blend. And then we have our Sea Dog, which is our new Cajun blend."

Why do you give back to first responders and the military?

Mike: "I've been an officer for about 11 years in the St. Louis Metropolitan area and I've always been a real big supporter of groups like Backstoppers and any group that ever gave back. With he and I going into this, our first thing going into this, initially, was that we were not doing this unless we're giving money back to first responders and the military. So with that said, we contacted Backstoppers and they got on board. We also called Safe Call Now, which is a 24-hour crisis prevention hotline, which is out of Seattle, that is for first responders and the military as well. And then we called the International Association of Firefighters. We just picked them up as a recipient."

Chris, do you also work outside of this business, or has Code 3 become your full-time occupation?

Chris: "This is now my full-time occupation. Since we've launched, this has taken off. We have almost 60 retail locations that carry it, so a lot of my time is spent running the day-to-day business."

Do you have any other products in development?

Chris: "We have plans to add three more blends and we also want to launch three barbecue sauces in the future, but we haven't completed the product development for all of them, yet."

What do you enjoy most about your business?

Mike: "Personally, I just like being able to give back to the men and women that do what I do for a living. That's the most self-satisfactory thing about it. We've done a lot of fundraisers. We've handed a lot of checks over since November. So I'd say between product and donations we're probably around $6,000 or $7,000. That's the most satisfaction that I get out of this. It's just the whole business aspect. We have something pretty special here, I think, and the response that we've had through social media and the general public has been amazing. It's really blown up overnight."

Chris: "The giving back is the most important part, but having a job where we have to grill and talk about barbecue all day, not everybody gets to do that."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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